Martin Luther King, the Beloved Community and the Socialist Idea

obery hendricksA classic from theologian Obery Hendricks, re-posted from The Huffington Post (May 2, 2014).

I speak the password primeval…I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpoint of on equal terms.
Walt Whitman

Recently on The Huffington Post I explored Martin Luther King’s rejection of capitalist logic and his endorsement of Democratic Socialism as an antidote to the ills and injustices inherent to the capitalist system he so fervently opposed. These include capitalism’s subordination of human welfare to the pursuit of profits; its transformation of greed from Christianity’s Third Mortal Sin to the preeminent capitalist virtue (based on a selective reading of Adam Smith); and its rejection of the biblically-mandated responsibility to “love your neighbor as yourself,” i.e., to care for society’s poor and vulnerable. In addition to the consternation that I would dare to use Martin Luther King and “socialism” in the same sentence, a number of readers also seized on King’s endorsement as confirmation of the old charge that he was a Communist sympathizer. Continue reading

An Indivisible Pedagogy and Theology of Somebodiness

rubyAnother brilliant epistle from the front porch of Ruby Sales

On this day as we remember King please accept this gift of recapitulation, restoration and remembrance of a southern African American story.

Every year I listen in absolute horror as White liberals rob King of his connection and roots to the Black South. His are deep roots as are mine that extend all the way back to the first organized non-violent southern freedom grassroots movement when members of the community of enslaved Africans ran away. He and I descend from enslaved ancestors who fashioned a radical and liberating Black folk theology in southern fields where they were forced under state sanctioned violence to labor like beasts of burden to enrich the economic lifestyles of southern Whites. In the heat of those fields they carved out a theology of pragmatic optimism that blended their transcendental impulse –ancestors’ aspirations — with transactional acts of resistance and accommodation towards citizenship. The folk impulse of our enslaved ancestors radically departed from the White transactional view of us as property to our transcendental view of our being children of God and therefore legitimate heirs of the promise of democracy.
Continue reading

The Heirloom Seeds of an Ancient and Profoundly Relevant Faith

sngBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), a pastor, parent, author and organizer in Portland, OR

*This is the third installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

As is often quoted within Radical Discipleship circles, ‘Radical’ comes from the Latin: radix, meaning root — getting to the root causes, the root pressures, the roots of our faith. Yes! Let’s get to the roots!

But today as I reflect on what Radical Discipleship means to me, and why it is necessary in the first place, I want to talk about seeds. Continue reading

Through the Wilderness

walzerFrom Jewish political theorist Michael Walzer’s Exodus and Revolution (1985):

So pharaonic oppression, deliverance, Sinai, and Canaan are still with us, powerful memories shaping our perceptions of the political world. The “door of hope” is still open; things are not what they might be–even when what they might be isn’t totally different from what they are. This is a central theme in Western thought, always present though elaborated in many different ways. We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught, or what it has commonly been taken to teach, about the meaning and possibility of politics and about its proper form:

-first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt;

-second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land;

-and third, that “the way to the land is through the wilderness.” There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching.

Nature Against Empire

chedAn excerpt from Ched Myers‘ must-read article “Nature against Empire: Exodus Plagues, Climate Crisis and Hardheartedness.” Digest this taste-tester and then spend time with the entire piece, where Myers weaves together climate science and our sacred Scripture. Join Ched and other theological animators at the 2019 Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute in February.

British theologian Michael Northcott’s important 2013 Political Theology of Climate Change argues that our modern worldview offers no frame of reference for the “politics of slow catastrophe” stalking our history through ecological catastrophe.  He shows how traditional cosmologies, including the Bible, saw climate as political.  That is, the actions of nations influenced the health of nature; when people behaved badly, the earth behaved badly back.  Modernity, however, banished that notion as superstitious and unscientific.  Humans and our technologies are now in control, we believe, while nature is depersonalized, demystified and at our disposal.  That paradigm may have “worked” for a few centuries, but now we are realizing that nature seems to be biting back. Continue reading

Water to my Weary Soul

graceBy Joshua Grace, a pastor, pitcher, parent and DJ in North Philly

*This is the second installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

Radical discipleship doesn’t lend itself to the typical rat race towards better answers. We’re trying asking better questions. What does it mean to be a human being in our past, present, and future social and natural locations? How can our practices toward bioregional health shape our approach to faith and how do our spiritualties contribute to the health of the communities we root into? How can we contribute to the mission of God with eyes open to systemic oppressions, levels and layers of privilege, and hearts open to healing? Continue reading